Deb Rodahl, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President
In my president’s acceptance speech, I noted that I plan to focus my efforts on areas that have been identified as a need in our organization; Leadership Development, Mentorship, Communication, and Professional Involvement. It is time to tackle the illusive topic of communication.
Communication is a very challenging dynamic when you start to think about the types of communication platforms, timing, audience, etc. Within ASCLS, communication is utilized to share all kinds of information (updates, science, operations), as well as providing a strategy for how the organization is marketing itself to the rest of the world. Depending on the information communicated, there are very different needs. Some information is time sensitive such as legislative updates, highlights from the Annual Meeting, or requests for nominations and volunteer opportunities. Other communications are less time-sensitive and may be geared toward education.
ASCLS has a variety of communication platforms: Clinical Laboratory Science Journal, ASCLS Today newsletter, and the Connect Community Forums.
The Clinical Laboratory Science Journal is our shining star for a peer-reviewed journal that allows our members to publish their research. The editing process for this communication mechanism is well understood by the authors and traditionally the journal is not intended for time-sensitive information. In March 2017, the Board of Directors decided to invest in the needed infrastructure to publish the journal so it could be properly indexed. The new software and infrastructure offer several enhancements to automate the article submission and editing process, which will reduce the length of time from submission to publication. The result will be well worth the journey, and many thanks go out to Suzanne Campbell for her vision for this project and to Perry Scanlan for helping to move the vision to reality.
Historically, we have relied on ASCLS Today to deliver most of our society news. It has always been jam-packed full of great updates from across the organization. We have always been very intentional about the timing of articles, scheduled months in advance. This is all part of the editing, design, and publication process. ASCLS Today is one of the very visible marketing and communication tools we have, so it is critical that it is produced well.
Last Summer it became very evident we were experiencing a challenge to balance the daily priorities of running ASCLS with the extra projects that had been commissioned and required much support of our staff. At the same time, the long time, trusted contractor for ASCLS Today fell ill and was no longer able to support our work. This resulted in a communication silence at a time when our staff were extremely busy with the other projects in progress. At the Annual Meeting, our members requested the Board of Directors review the challenges with publishing ASCLS Today and to develop a more comprehensive communication plan.
In September, the ASCLS Executive Committee heard a presentation from Executive Vice President, Jim Flanigan, that very well-articulated the communication needs in ASCLS and how that also supports our ability to market who we are. After a lengthy discussion, the Executive Committee realized that an underlying need for ASCLS was to find a way to add a marketing and communications role within ASCLS to manage the design and production of the newsletter, while furthering our marketing and communication strategy. This resulted in a proposal to the Board of Directors in November and the hiring our Director of Marketing and Communications, Lindsay Kamowski. Lindsay comes with great experience, working with other professional organizations and was quick to put together a comprehensive published communication plan.
- Time sensitive information will continue to be pushed out on the ASCLS Community Forums and Open Forum. Community Forum communication is increasing as more members see the value of the regular updates and ability to dialogue with each other on important matters.
- The ASCLS Society News Now will be the venue for regular communication of time-sensitive information including nominations, volunteer opportunities, committee highlights, legislative updates, and more.
- ASCLS Today will continue to publish updates from within the organization on a regular schedule. This newsletter provides valuable information and supports a marketing strategy for the organization. It is available in print and electronic formats.
- The Clinical Laboratory Science Journal will continue to publish peer reviewed articles submitted by laboratory professionals utilizing our new electronic publishing platform.
Communication is a critical strategy and need within ASCLS. While the delays in publishing our ASCLS Today newsletter has been frustrating for all of us, it highlights the value it provides to our members and ASCLS as an organization. Please accept our apology for this gap and know that we have come out of this challenge in a much better place. It truly is my honor to serve as ASCLS President!